Hi! I’m Bargain Moola and I’m a shopaholic on a budget. I’ll be scouring the high street and Internet for the biggest discounts, the best deals and the hottest spots for saving money.
I’m excited about joining my fellow OolaMoolas in helping you live the good life on a modest budget. Designer shoes? I’ll find them for half the price. (and probably buy them myself!) That cashmere wrap that’s perfect for your mum’s birthday? I’ll point you towards the best places to buy it from.
It’s not all pretty shoes and flirty dresses though! I’m a gadget addict and love finding the latest product to save time, money and space at home and on the go!
Just let me know what you’re looking for!
I live about an hour outside of London, so I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to save money if you live outside the capital. Feel free to challenge me to help you find something, using the challenge form.
Image from Flickr User: Jacob Bøtter
Posted in Introductions
Well crafters, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The good news is, the zipper flower is done. Ish.
The bad news is that it just about defeated me and I’ve finished this project with one zipper amoeba and a whole new appreciation for Velcro, snaps and ties.
Zippers are a tricky business, and to turn one into a flower, well, I think that takes a little more dexterity than your correspondent here could muster. Only those who play fast and loose with the whole representational thing are likely to call my little craft a flower. It is a zipper amoeba.
Here’s how I did it, along with a few tips on how NOT to do yours.
First, I consulted a very handy tutorial on craftster.org. Once I had an idea of what I was doing (or thought I did), I gathered my crafting components: needle, thread, scissors and zipper. I had run out of black thread and so had to buy more, which nudged my costs above the £5 mark, but not too far out of reach: all in, my bill was £6.30.
Generally, if you want to give a present that appeals to all ages, sexes and races and don’t have a budget of thousands of pounds, it has to conform to at least one of the holy trinity of gift ideals - impressiveness, cuteness or deliciousness. Case to point - in my previous post I told you all how to make a sockmonkey- a present that hits both the ‘aaah’ cute factor and - unless you are some stitching wizzkid - a certain amount of surprised adulation from your family that you actually made something other than a sandwich with your own fair hands.
In this post I am going to show you how to make three different types of edible Christmas treats, that when parcelled together with a bit of decoration can make a gift that is both impressive and yummy. Observe! My ginger biscuit, peppermint cream and chocolate truffle Christmas tree! (for want of a snappier name)
What do you need to make this sweetie stack?
If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s the fact that every December, most women buy a new dress for the Christmas-New Year party season… and most of us buy it in black.
But this year, I’ve got a bit of a problem. You see, I did a bit of a closet re-org last weekend and I counted EIGHT black dresses… none of which I’m prepared to part with. I also counted a great deal of non-black dresses, leading me directly to the conclusion that this year I will NOT buy a new dress.
What to do? Accessorise, my dears, I must accessorise… and happily enough, I know just how: with a zipper flower.
Over the past few months, I’ve spotted zipper flowers on a few well-accessorised fashionistas around town. They’ve also been featured on some crafty/style blogs, like The Best of DIY and Chictopia. I even spotted a couple for sale in Topshop, but they don’t come cheap — the one I liked was £25!
Clearly, a bit of craftiness is in order if I want to update my party wardrobe on the cheap (and chic).
Can it be done? Absolutely, and I’m setting a spend limit of £5. I’ll post back with my results and the official OolaMoola zipper flower how-to.
So Christmas is creeping up around the corner and you’re so deadly broke that a ‘night out’ has simply become a synonym for ‘watching Eastenders at a friends’ house’. Well fear not! For those of you who are short on funds but have plenty of time on your hands, I have the perfect gift idea.
Sockmonkeys make great toys for children (or, if your sewing skills are less robust) thoughtful presents for adults. I mean, that’s the joy of handmade things after all, so long as they aren’t utterly hideous beyond all redemption, the receiver will be so touched that you actually spent time - time that could have been spent googling your name or chewing your nails - thinking of them and repeatedly pricking your finger with a needle, they won’t care if their gift looks like a slightly wonky gangbanger (see below).
Anyway, I digress. How to make a Sockmonkey.
You will need socks (duh), pins, a needle and thread, cotton wool (or something to stuff it with) and buttons for eyes.
Posted in Crafting
Last weekend I (and two lucky ticket winners, though not as a power-shopping trio) took a seasonal spin round the Spirit of Christmas Fair (hereafter referred to as the SoCF).
I wanted to kick off my Christmas shopping early this year, hopefully with a few inexpensive and unique gifts. Every year I end up needing more hostess/thank-you gifts than I expect to, so I had my eyes open for suitable fare.
Let there be fairy lights
The SoCF was just as billed – a glittering, twinkling celebration of gifts, crafts and all things consumable. There was nary a high street label in sight, and most stalls were staffed by, if not the people who made the goods, certainly the people who ran the business. This made shopping a little easier, as you could get a bit of information about the goods for sale and where they come from.
Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my favourite bit was the little cafe at the centre of things. My shopping sidekick E and I headed there first for some mulled wine and mince tarts – sustenance, you see – before braving the crowds and wading into the melee…
Time to hit the list
Calling to mind an earlier OolaMoola challenge, E’s handbag budget was £100. She was looking for something pretty, big enough to hold a Mac and some paperwork, and, most importantly, “grown-up and professional”. Tall order.
Luckily for us, the SoCF was teeming with handbags that fit the bill. The event attracts a lot of small businesses and artisans, so the goods on offer tended towards the unique and high-quality, but fortunately lacked the hefty price tags similar bags sport on the high street.
E bought a beautiful pink and black handbag from Timepieces, a brand that specialises in Italian imports. Leather-lined, many-pocketed and multi-strapped, it fit the bill and came in at £5 under budget. Success – and a fiver for the mulled wine fund.
I tried on, but didn’t buy, a gorgeous silver butterfly ring by jeweller Kimberley Selwood. I loved her stuff, especially this delicate piece, but alas jewellery was not on my list.
I’ve read that velvet is *the* fabric this year, so when saw a Jane Means ribbon stand I took a minute to look for some lush velvet ribbon I could use to tie my hair back. I spent £5 on four lengths of ribbon (two of them velvet – score!).
I also found a few packets of festive napkins and similar items to set aside until the inevitable hostess gift panic moment.
All in, the SoCF provided a refreshing alternative to high street Christmas shopping, though it was a more chaotic experience than the tried and tried wine-and-a-laptop online shopping special (a favourite of mine). Worth a visit next year? Absolutely – even with the £15 ticket price.
Posted in Uncategorized
It’s 6 November, which means Christmas is a mere 48 days away. If you’re a last-minute sort, Christmas shopping won’t have graced your retail radar yet, but if you’re someone who likes to get it done sooner (all the more time to quaff mulled wine, you see), your ship has come in…
Let the Christmas shopping commence
OolaMoola is giving away four weekend tickets to the Spirit of Christmas Fair in Olympia this weekend. The event has been featured in Home & Garden magazine and is stacked with gifts, glitter, and all manner of delicious Christmas treats.
Here’s what you’ll find at the Fair
This year, more than 600 companies will have some sort of food, drink, gift or service on display. The list of who’s coming features lots of local, ethical and handmade brands like Chameleon Earth Fair Trade leather goods, luscious Cowshed body products and Gwendolyn Carrie handmade shoes.
Even if you’re not up for shopping just yet, the Spirit of Christmas Fair is the perfect place to take in your first taste of festive spirit, with wines (mulled and otherwise!), chocolates and all manner of seasonal treats to be had.
Our tickets come courtesy of jewellery designer Kimberley Selwood, whose gorgeous new Plume range will be on display. Here’s one of her cuff bracelets — I think it’s really delicate and unique… something for the stocking, perhaps? (One can only hope!)
How to get in on the action
Tickets are valued at £15 each and are good for admission on Saturday or Sunday. We’ll give the tickets away in pairs so you can take a friend with you to soak up all the seasonal festivity.
To win yours, hop onto Twitter and be the first (or second!) to retweet our Spirit of Christmas Fair tweet. Good luck… and happy shopping!
Most mums are familiar with the NCT (National Childbirth Trust), but how many are aware of the nearly-new sales that take place locally to them every 6 months or so?
Down our way, in the London mummy-ghetto that is East Dulwich, the NCT nearly-new sale is a hotly anticipated date that finds its way into the diary weeks in advance. I had been warned by a couple of friends that I should turn up early to bag the good stuff. I can’t usually be bothered to queue for anything, but when it comes to shopping for The Noodle, I’m a willing slave.
The queues were long and the morning so cold that I regretted my sweater dress and boots and wished for a ‘duvet’ coat - the kind you see Spanish tourists wearing in London whatever the weather. I froze for 40 minutes, whiling away the time on Google reader and surreptitiously sharpening my elbows.
At 11am sharp, the doors opened and the hordes rushed in. It was organised chaos, with mums just about managing to be polite to each other as they scrabbled over jumpers, coats, trousers, toys and even bigger items like a brand new Bugaboo. There really was some great schwag to be had.
I had set myself a budget of £40 and hoped to find some warm clothes and new toys for The Noodle. I’m pretty pleased with what I came out with:
1 pure wool Benetton cardigan (£4.50)
3 pairs of tights (£1.50)
1 wooden shape sorter (£3.50)
1 bag of duplo including a bendy caterpillar (£4.50)
1 pair of pompom slippers (£4)
1 pair of dungarees (£4.50)
1 sleeping bag (£2.50)
1 wooden bead puzzle (£2.50)
When I got home, I took real pleasure in hunting for the same articles online to find out how much money I’d saved. I discovered that the overall value when new is £174.00. Bargain! And I came out unscathed - all in all, a good morning’s bargain hunting.
Here’s a video of a slightly more spacious NCT sale than the one I went to:
To find out where the next NCT sale near you is, go to their Nearly New Sale Finder and put in your postcode. The added bonus is that most of the money goes to the charity to support new parents, so you can feel warm and fuzzy as well as a little bit smug.
This week’s challenge comes from Petunia, who asks us to “Find me a cheap (NY cheap) manicure in central London, please!”
Fair enough – I would love to solve this challenge! The low-cost, high-gloss New York manicure has got to be one of my top 25 favourite things about New York. Finding one in London would be an OolaMoola coup!
Posted in Beauty
Here I am, back for instalment two of my manly clothing challenge. Today I’m going to look at a few trends to embrace – and a few faux-pas to avoid – before flagging up my first menswear shopping destination.
The not-so-fine line between fashion and faux-pas
I think it’s fair to say that some men tend to be a little more wary of fashion than they need to be.
Posted in Fashion